Jun 26, 2009
(MountEverest.net/Reported by Ang Karma Sherpa) A historic meet of Sherpa climbers was convened at the National Academy Hall in Kathmandu on 21 June 2009 to address the woes and difficulties of Nepali climbers and current mountaineering related issues in Nepal.
This first ever meet of Nepali climbers in the history of Nepali mountaineering was organized by the task force committee formed by the government to steer the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA).
600 Nepali climbers
The meet was attended by 34 regional mountaineers clubs, mountaineering related association/agencies and approximately 600 Nepali climbers and 100 expedition operator representatives.
Over 30 speakers, majority of them comprised of Nepali climbers, spoke on various issues relating to the state of Nepali climbers, Himalayan environment and special provisions to be incorporated in the drafting of the new constitution to address concern of Nepali mountaineers.
“Nepali mountaineers have come of age to lead their own destiny”
In his welcome address, Nima Nuru Sherpa, member of the NMA task force committee & convener of the Meet highlighted the special role and contribution of Nepali climbers towards the development mountaineering activities in particular and tourism in general in Nepal.
He said, “We Sherpas of younger generation are indebted to our forefathers for their hard work and integrity for the glory they brought in the community and nationwide.”
He added, “Mountaineering trends and scenes have changed and our generation needs to be prepared to accept new challenges both on the mountains and policy making level to give new direction to mountaineering activities for the benefit of all. I believe Nepali mountaineers have come of age to lead their own destiny and this meet is to set the first milestone in this regard.”
Pemba Gyalje Sherpa, “does the state know the plight of Nepali climbers when they get old?”
Recipient of National Geographic award of “Adventurer of Year in Heroism in 2008” the savior in the storm on K2, Pemba Gyalje Sherpa – co-convener of the meet – highlighted problems of the Sherpas in the following words, “Although small in numbers we have made a huge contribution to bring glory to the nation. It is time the Nepali state recognized the contribution made by us and this can be done by making special provision in the drafting of the new constitution.”
He added, “Does the state know the plight of Nepali climbers when they get old and can work for expeditions no more? Many of them have to walk bare feet, their children receive no quality education and when they get seriously injured in the mountains they get no prompt rescue and good treatment afterwards.”
Highlighting the issue further he added, “when they become old or permanently injured from accidents they are left to die on their own – not to mention their widows and children who have no one to support them…”
“Even renowned Nepali climbers are fleeing the country for employment elsewhere because of the state’s neglect. This is going to cost Nepal heavily in the long run, as it will create a void of experienced Nepali mountaineers for future expeditions.”
Pemba also expressed his concern that such a situation is emerging because the Nepal Mountaineering Association, founded to safe-guard the interest and welfare of Nepali mountaineers, has long been run by non-mountaineers.
Mountaineering related agencies to be restructured; guides to obtain international certificates
Nawang Nima Sherpa, member of Nepali Mountaineers’ Welfare & Rights Committee spoke about the need of restructuring mountaineering related agencies in order to recognize and evaluate full potentialities of Nepali climbers in tune with the changing times.
He also mentioned the government and concerned parties have neglected important issues relating to mountaineering and Nepali climbers such as:
– proper regulations to direct mountaineers conduct during expeditions,
– timely reform in the role of liaison officers,
– adequate insurance,
– prompt rescue and evacuation of Nepali climbers during accidents,
– pension and welfare of retired Nepali climbers.
In view of the changing mountaineering trends and scenario in the Himalaya mountains, he also spoke about further upgrading mountaineering skills of Nepali climbers and need for mountaineering schools to produce professional Nepali mountain guides with international diplomas.
Lhakpa, “foreign climbers talk more about their yaks than their Sherpas” – Junila, “parts of royalty fees should cover help to injured Sherpas and their relatives”
Lhakpa Phuti Sherpa, president of Nepal Women Mountaineering Association spoke about the decimation practiced by foreign climbers and mountaineering associations. Quoting from her experience of attending a mountain film festival in Switzerland, she said, “Foreign climbers talk tirelessly about our yaks but hardly mention a word about their expedition Sherpas – who is going to speak about this double standard?”
Usha Bista, Everest summiteer and member of the 2008 Nepal Women expedition to Everest said, “handing out certificates and medals to mountaineers is no longer enough; has the Nepali government done anything for Dharma Raj Rai, who helped Nepali climber and oldest Everest summiteer Min Bahadur Sherchan, 77, to reach Everest summit and lost fingers on both hands in the process?”
Junila Subba, another woman Everest summiteer from the same expedition spoke about the need of inclusion of Sherpa climbers in the policy making body of the government and launch welfare programs to support climbers and their family in such need from the money raised from expedition royalty fees.
Rescue resources, social security, climate change
President of TAAN, Jyoti Adhikari urged the government to make arrangement for education and health and special privileges in transportation and employment for Nepali mountaineers and their families. He also requested the government to take immediate initiatives in developing an effective mechanism for the rescue of mountaineers, both foreigners and Nepali, in case of accidents and selection of liaison officers from Nepali climbers. He demanded social security for climbers and their family after they retire.
Parliamentarian and Constituent Assembly members Ms. Shanta Chaudari and Pasang Sherpa pledged their support to have the interest and rights of Nepali mountaineers addressed in the drafting of new constitution.
They also spoke about the need to save Himalaya from climate change and revenues from mountaineering ploughed back for the betterment of mountain people.
Policies are enough; implementation is what matters
Former Secretary of Nepali Tourism Ministry Dipendra Purush Dhakal said, “Pressuring the government to make policies to address the woes and difficulties of Nepali climbers is a work of a special nature. Drafting policies and regulations alone is not enough; what is important is the implementation and execution part.”
Mr. Dhakal will help prepare a work paper on the meet to present to the government and other concerned agencies.
Ranjan Krishna Aryal, concluded the Meet with the following remarks: “I believe the issues raised in this Meet will affect the government to amend the current mountaineering rules and regulation for the overall benefit of mountaineering activities in our country. I as a legal person in the Ministry of Tourism will offer my best support in this regard.”
Ranjan Krishna Aryal, joint secretary at the Nepali’s tourism ministry and the convener of NMA task force chaired the meet with veteran Sherpa Ang Rita gracing the meet as the guest of honor.
Other prominent invitees included former secretary at the Ministry of Tourism Dipendra Purush Dhakla; parliamentarian and constituent assembly members Pasang Sherpa and Ms. Shanta Chaudary; former NMA president Tek Chandra Pokharel; Trekking Agent’s Association Nepal (TAAN) president Jyoti Adhikari and first Nepali teenager Everest summiteer Shambu Tamang.
Citing complaints of monopoly and irregularities from Nepali mountaineers and mountaineering professionals, last year, Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism directed the last elected committee of NMA to resign en masse and consequently a 5 member task force committee was formed in replacement.
However in defiance to the formation of task force by the government and in a rushed election a new NMA executive committee was elected. This committee has so far failed to receive approval from the Ministry of Tourism, hence forced to work in ‘exile’.
The Ministry of Tourism is the co-coordinating agency of NMA for government related matters. An attempt by the task force, with support from the majority of Nepali climbers, to elect a new executive committee is on hold due to legal/political wrangling.
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